by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) April 8, 2011
President Benigno Aquino said Friday he plans to have a 3-D map of the Philippine archipelago created as part of an effort to guard against disasters.
The project, which will cost a billion pesos ($23.2 million), will help pinpoint communities which are vulnerable to floods, landslides and other natural disasters, the president said.
"This mapping will help us check every corner of our country so we will have more information on which areas are vulnerable to floods," Aquino said at the opening of a government flood-control project.
"This will be a big help in giving us enough time to help our countrymen who are about to be hit by a flood," he added.
He said the project was justified despite its high price because the Philippines was identified as "geo-hazard area" where catastrophes were common.
Aquino did not say how the 3-D mapping would be carried out or when it would be completed.
The Philippines is considered one of the world's most vulnerable countries to natural disasters.
It sits on the Pacific's earthquake and volcano belt, and is battered by an average of 20 typhoons a year which often bring devastating floods.
earlier related report
The second stage of a five-step alert system has been imposed around Taal Volcano, a visitor spot located 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of Manila, after increased signs of activity were detected.
While this does not mean an eruption is imminent, government volcano monitoring officer Julio Sabit said tourists and residents were warned to steer clear of Taal's crater and from thermal vents on its northern side.
"It is still a grey area. We still cannot say if it will culminate in an eruption," Sabit told AFP.
The volcano could suffer intensified activity but could also slowly subside as it did last year, after showing increasing activity in June, Sabit said.
Taal is one of the most unstable of the country's 22 known active volcanoes with 33 recorded eruptions, the last one in 1977.
A lake surrounding the crater prevented deaths in 1977 and during other eruptions, as the body of water protected outlying areas from the lava.
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